May 11, 2019, 7:30 pm
May 12, 3:00 pm
In the SOU Music Recital Hall, 450 S. Mountain Avenue, Ashland
The season comes to a rousing and moving close with two wonderful pieces for choir and orchestra, one a true classic, Beethoven’s beautiful ”Mass in C,” and one a modern classic, Moreten Lauridsen’s ethereal “Lux Aeterna” (Eternal Light).
Beethoven’s Mass, for chorus, orchestra, and soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, was commissioned by Prince Nikolas Esterhazy in honor of his late wife, and was first performed in 1807. Beethoven liked it so much he performed sections from it the next year at a concert that featured the premiere of four major works including the Fifth Symphony.
Some one hundred and ninety years later, Lauridsen’s transcendent “Lux Aeterna” was written during a two-year period in which his mother was dying. It was premiered by the Los Angeles Master Chorale and has since been performed to universal acclaim all over the world. I would say it is the most popular choral major work of the past fifty years.
Both pieces set their sights on bringing comfort. Lauridsen said his goal was to “write something really, really beautiful” that would “enrich the lives of performers and listeners.”
Uncharacteristically, Beethoven had much the same goal and had scrawled on the draft of the Agnus Dei (a prayer for peace), “utmost simplicity, please, please, please.”
Both these pieces are written on a human scale with a goal to move the listener. As Beethoven wrote of his later and more famous “Missa Solemnis,” ”From the heart may it go straight to the heart.” That is our wish as well.
Musicologist Ed Wight will give a free lecture one hour prior to each concert in Room 132 of the Music Recital Hall building. Mr. Wight will provide background on the composers and the pieces to be performed. To read Mr. Wight’s program notes, click here.